Well-off may lose home loan assistance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2002, 12:00am

High-income families currently eligible for one of two government home loan schemes are likely to be excluded when they are merged, according to the Housing Bureau.

Officials said families with a monthly income of $50,000 or more might not benefit from the new scheme, which will have an annual quota of 15,000.

The administration has proposed standardising application criteria by merging the two loan schemes currently operated by two housing bodies.

The Home Starter Loan scheme, operated by the Housing Society, provides a maximum of $600,000 for a family with income capped at $50,000.

The Home Purchase Loan Scheme of the Housing Authority limits monthly income to $25,000 for non-public housing residents. There is no income limit for residents in public rental units.

At the Legco housing panel yesterday, Deputy Secretary for Housing Andrew Wells said he believed families making $50,000 a month might not deserve subsidies.

'I personally believe these people will have a slim chance [of staying in the new scheme],' he said.

He said the new scheme would follow the main features of the Home Purchase Loan Scheme, but might have a second set of higher income and asset limits to cater for middle-income applicants.

Key political parties, including the Democrats, the Liberal Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, backed the merger in principle.

But unionist Leung Yiu-chung, of the Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre, accused the Government of trying to prop up the property market.

'On one hand, you lower the number of applicants eligible for Home Ownership Scheme flats by tightening the income limit. On the other hand, you encourage people to obtain loans to buy private flats,' he said.

Lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions said he was concerned that the number of people benefitting might be fewer than the Government's annual target.